Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

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Graduate Certificate in Global Health

Students enrolled in any Vanderbilt graduate program who receive the approval of their dean and fulfill the requirements listed below are eligible for the certificate.  Students must submit an Intent to Enroll form upon their decision to pursue the certificate and must complete the Certificate Application at least two months prior to graduation detailing the ways in which requirements were met.

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Global health is not limited to clinical health professionals. Practitioners from various fields, including business, education, and engineering, are vital to global health work. This interdisciplinary graduate-level certificate program promotes joint training opportunities in global health between various departments and schools at Vanderbilt. Students earning this certificate learn basic knowledge and skills that will help them make positive contributions in global health. Any Vanderbilt professional or graduate student who fulfills all requirements will be granted the certificate when they receive their graduate degrees.

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Steps for Enrollment

For students interested in pursuing the certificate in global health, please follow these steps:

  1. Review the information on this page and the Certificate Requirements.
  2. Print, fill out, and have your Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director sign the VU Notification of Intent to Enroll (signatures of the certificate director and graduate school will be completed by VIGH). Then, submit this form as part of the VIGH Intent to Enroll form.
  3. If you wish to submit a request for a non-global health course to be considered as part of your 9 elective credit hours, please do so here.
  4. Use this checklist to help you plan and keep track of your global health course credits.
  5. Contact to discuss any questions or concerns, and to discuss a possible field experience.
  6. At least two months prior to graduation, submit the Certificate Application. You may initiate the form at any time during your graduate program to track your progress toward the certificate using the “Save and Return Later” feature.

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  1. To equip students with analytic and problem-solving skills that can be applied to current and emerging global health challenges.
  2. To prepare students for internationally-focused careers in academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, immigrant health agencies, philanthropic foundations, and industry.
  3. To help students assess public health challenges within international cultural and socioeconomic contexts.
  4. To instruct students in the fundamental principles of research, planning, and management methodology in resource-constrained settings.
  5. To facilitate student synthesis and analysis of global health data from existing and de novo sources.
  6. To ensure student acquisition of core competencies in global health care and prevention, including the mastery of a basic vocabulary in these disciplines.

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All degree-seeking Vanderbilt graduate and professional students are eligible. Individuals who are not enrolled in a Vanderbilt graduate program are ineligible for the certificate, although they are encouraged to enroll in VIGH global health courses and contact VIGH for guidance on global health initiatives.

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Certificate Program Requirements

Certificate Requirements

NEW REQUIREMENTS as of Summer 2015: Students will be granted a global health certificate at the time of graduation from their respective graduate degree-seeking program if they have successfully completed the requirements stipulated below:

  1. At least one 3-credit-hour core global health course: Foundations of Global Health or Essential Skills in Global Health
  2. At least 9 credit hours of additional global health electives.
    • These credit hours may be a combination of VIGH global health courses or other approved courses that have relevance to global health.
    • Students may individually tailor and/or design electives in consultation with faculty mentors.
    • Practicum, thesis, and individual learning courses that have relevance to global health may be approved for Certificate credit.
    • Global health fieldwork can satisfy up to 6 elective credit hours (see Field Experience section below for more information).
    • Students wishing to count a non-VIGH course towards the Certificate should complete the Course Proposal form on which they explain how the course relates to the Certificate objectives (listed above in a previous section) and describe their final course deliverable, which must relate to global health.
    • All courses for the Certificate must be offered and taken for graduate credit and involve global health content.

This checklist will help you to plan and track your global health credits.

Global Health Course Credits:

VIGH’s global health courses:

Other courses with relevance to global health:

  • In addition to the courses above, the following have been approved for the Certificate:
    • Project Pyramid – offered in Mods 3 and 4 (spring semester)
    • Addressing Global Health Disparities: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (NURS 8072) – offered as a block course in the spring
    • Interdisciplinary Topics in Global Health (NURS 6080) – offered spring and summer, in-person and online
    • MD students only: Global Health ISC and AE (count for 3 credit hours each) and Research Immersion Inquiry (count for 6 credit hours)
  • Courses that are not listed in the sections above but do relate health, low-resource settings, foreign-born populations, economics, community development, and similar topics may be considered for certificate credit, if your final deliverable focuses on an aspect of global health.
    • For example, in a course on international economic development, an appropriate final deliverable would be a literature review on the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
  • We have compiled a list of potential courses that may relate to global health.
  • Students may also tailor a practicum, thesis, or individual learning course to relate to global health and to be considered for Certificate credit.
  • To have a course be considered for the certificate requirements, please submit the “Course Proposal” form.

Field Experience:

A field experience is highly encouraged, but not required, and can count for up to 6 credit hours. To count for the Certificate, field experiences should be a structured time (such as a 6-week block, 20 hours/week for 12 weeks, or 1 day/week for 30 weeks), include a final reflective report, and be registered for MD or graduate credit hours.

Field experience credit hours from other graduate and professional school requirements count towards the certificate. For example, a practicum/internship may satisfy 3-6 credit hours (if initially registered for credit) and a MD Research Immersion Inquiry or year-abroad global health experience, such as a Fogarty, Fulbright-Fogarty, Medical Scholars, or Doris Duke international fellowship, may satisfy 6 credit hours. Typically, global health field experiences are abroad, though certain circumstances and interests may allow students to engage in global health research and work in Middle Tennessee, particularly with immigrants and refugees. Click here to read examples of past field experiences.

When deciding on a field experience, the student should meet with VIGH faculty/staff to develop an appropriate practicum experience, which includes goals based on inputs from the faculty mentor and in tandem with the current research and educational activities that are being undertaken at the collaborating institution/organization. Students should have an on-site faculty supervisor and submit written agreements with both domestic and international supervisors.

Students traveling overseas are required to register with International SOS at least two weeks prior to departure.To help prepare for your field experience, you can find information about Travel Resources, Pre-departure Preparation, and Safety (VUnetID login required).

When looking to fund your practicum, look through our list of external funding options, talk with your Vanderbilt school and colleagues for ideas, and do a web search for your specific research/professional interest to see who might fund your project.

*Please note: If a student plans to travel to a country that is on the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning list, s/he must submit a “Request for Exception to Travel.” For more information, visit the Global Support Services Office.

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Information for Graduating Students

graduation capTo be considered for the Graduate Certificate in Global Health, complete and submit the Certificate Application form. Students may initiate the form at any time during their graduate program to track their progress toward the certificates using the “Save and Return Later” feature. The form must be completed and submitted at least two months prior to graduation.

Deadlines for submission (approximately two months before your graduation date):
May graduates: March 1
August graduates: June 1
December graduates: October 1

The online application form requires students to provide the following:

  1. Information on global health coursework, including an unofficial transcript, detailed academic record, or courses report from YES.
  2. Information on global health field work and final product (if a field experience was completed).
  3. A 1-paragraph bio and professional headshot to be used on our alumni pages.
View recipients of the Graduate Certificate in Global Health:
2014 |  2015

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find course descriptions?

Visit the course description page for general overviews. Log into YES for the most up-to-date information on faculty and times.

Do courses require faculty approval?

Due to limited class sizes, all students outside of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine will require approval from VIGH and course faculty. Please contact the course professor prior to enrolling.

How do I identify a good field experience?

Students are encouraged to pursue their own field experiences. You can begin your search by exploring the VIGH Global Health Opportunities Database. Contact for additional support and to set up a meeting to plan your experience. Remember, you will need to set goals for your experience, have an on-site mentor, and complete the final written report. See the Field Experience section above for more information.

Is there funding available for travel?

The Certificate in Global Health does not have any funding available. Students are encouraged to explore funding at their host institutions and departments, as well as external sources. View further information about internal and external sources of funding here (VUnetID login required). Be sure to check out the Global Health Education Consortium’s “How to Find, Plan, and Fund Your Global Health Opportunity” guide, too.

What is required for the field experience written reflective report?

A final written self-assessment with appendices will serve as the final product. The self-assessment is different than typical academic writing. Students should write in first-person and describe their field experience.

1) Self-Assessment (10 pages total, 12 point font, double-spaced)
  • Introduction (2 pages)
    • Site/Organization with which student worked and its history, mission, and programs overview
    • Practicum specifications: programs engaged, responsibilities, goals, and objectives
  • Practicum Activities (2 pages)
    • Briefly describe activities completed over the practicum
  • Evaluation (2 pages)
    • Analysis of organization’s programs
    • Evaluate objectives (Were they met? Did they change? Why or why not?)
  • Perceptions (2 pages)
    • Relationship to past work experiences, didactic/academic experiences, & career interests
    • Most valuable aspects of practicum experience
  • Recommendations (1 page)
    • Programmatic (How can our program improve the field experience for students?)
    • Organizational (Would you recommend the site for future students? Why or why not?)
  • Conclusion (1/2 – 1 page)

2) Appendices (1 or more deliverables created for the site)

  • May include: literature reviews, data analysis reports, strategic plans, policy memos, PowerPoint presentations, survey instruments, training materials, curricula, manuscript drafts, best practice recommendations, grants, etc. If your products are not shareable (e.g., protected interview or survey data, computer programs, databases, etc.), provide a brief description.
  • Include a copy or picture of thank you note(s) to your supervisors and/or on-site colleagues.

How does tuition work?

Students are responsible for discussing tuition concerns with their own departments.

Can I propose a course to count towards the certificate if the course does not have a health or global health focus?

Yes. Courses that are not listed as global health courses but do relate global health, low-resource settings, low- and middle-income countries, undeserved populations, economic development, and the like can be considered for certificate credit. Your final deliverable for the course must focus on an aspect of global health (ex: the course is about economic development in low- and middle-income countries and your final deliverable is a literature review on the long-term economic impact of child feeding programs). To have a non-listed global health course be considered for the certificate requirements, please submit this form at least one month before registering for a potential course.

What if I have already taken a global health-related course and I would like it to count towards the certificate?

If the course relates global health, low-resource settings, low- and middle-income countries, undeserved populations, economic development, and the like, and your final deliverable focused on an aspect of global health, you may submit a course proposal for consideration. You will need to upload the course syllabus as well as your final product.

What if I cannot fit either of the global health core courses into my schedule?

Contact Elizabeth Rose ( to discuss other options.

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For additional information on the Graduate Certificate in Global Health, please contact:

Elizabeth Rose, MPH, M.Ed.
Training and Development Coordinator
Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health